The Staircase co-writer, co-show runner, and executive producer Maggie Cohn very correctly called me out on my personal bias when discussing her work.
As you’ll see in the below video interview, I referred to the infamous events of the HBO Max limited series as “the Michael Peterson case.” Cohn is quick to challenge (in an incredibly polite and playful way) that statement as the story lives far beyond the boundaries of the single man. In fact, so many conversations and representations of Kathleen Peterson’s murder omit her person narrative completely, focusing instead on the admittedly compelling puzzle of a man that is Michael Peterson.
That was one of the main reasons why Cohn wanted to join Antonio Campos to tell the entire story shown in HBO Max’s The Staircase, starring Colin Firth and Toni Collette. The series includes a vast array of characters including the Petersons, their children, grieving family members, the prosecution, the defense, the French documentary crew capturing and later participating in the case, and much more. As a result, The Staircase changes the way we look at the events surrounding Kathleen Peterson’s death. It asks us, through an inclusive lens, to re-examine our opinions and our biases as the best art does.
Here, in an interview with Awards Daily, Cohn talks about her interest in the case and her collaborative process with Campos. Having written two episodes of the series, she talks about some of the choices for which she advocated. She talks about including the French documentary crew within the narrative of this limited series and how changes the series. She also talks extensively about servicing the memory of Kathleen Peterson (played by Toni Collette). Finally, she reveals whether or not the series changed her opinions about the case.
The Staircase streams exclusively on HBO Max.